There was a moment in Blood Diamond when I almost stood up and screamed "No!" at the screen. It crossed my mind to do so at the time. It really did. I was ticked off...
At various times in the movie people shrug their shoulders at the mess they see around them and simply say "TIA". This Is Africa. At one point this observation goes further as it is affirmed that "God left Africa years ago."
Really?! I just cannot let a statement go by without a few comments.
(a) The staggering growth of the church in Africa would suggest otherwise. This is evidence enough that God is still present and active in Africa. But to quote Shania Twain numbers "don't impress me much" (on their own) ... so I move on
(b) One of the reasons why I am a Christian - and not a Muslim or a Hindu or a Buddhist - is that I am drawn to the way the Bible takes time to reveal God as a God who suffers. Jesus is 'acquainted with grief' and was born so that he could die. The shadow of the cross falls over the earliest chapters of the gospels. God is not embarrassed by TIA. Nor does he try to escape from it. He knows it is the work of sin and evil deep within human hearts and systems. His unfolding plan is to deal to this problem. Nor does God turn his face away from it. For those who seek him he draws nearer and closer to them in their suffering. I love and worship this God...
Sometimes in April (the story of the Rwandan genocide) captures this reality far better than Blood Diamond (probably because it ain't been Hollywoodised!!). What happens at those moments of sharpest pain in that ghastly story? We find characters reciting Psalm 23 and the Lord's Prayer in order to gain comfort. The witness of believers down the centuries and across the timezones is that the light of hope and joy shines brightest just where the dark is darkest. God has never left Africa. He is more there than he has ever been (if that is possible).
We do God a great injustice when we nibble around the edges of this 'health and wealth, happy and clappy' gospel which is so prevalent today. He hates it.
(c) For me the issue of Blood Diamond is not about where God has gone in the face of TIA - but where have the people of God gone ... the very followers of Jesus in those countries where the diamonds are going. Why are they not standing up and confronting TIA? Why are they not joining with their God and drawing closer to this suffering? When will it click for them that a global church finding ways to 'weep with those who weep' on a global scale is going to become a compelling feature of God's global mission - and part of what will commend the gospel to unbelievers.
Maybe TIA is not the only problem. Maybe there is a mess in the movie caused by "This Is Europe" (TIE) or This Is America (a different TIA) or This Is New Zealand (TINZ). In this mess we find people addicted to consumption and unable to control a lust for more. It blinds them and it deafens them to the sights and sounds of TIA and so we do nothing.